Food in motion has come a long way since the beginning of deliveries, but it took a long time to get where we are at the moment. However, the true evolution of food delivery has just begun and as we move forward from the days of pizza boxes and Chinese food containers and into the days of fine dining at home, restaurants are finding they need to change more than just the plate.
Consumers want to-go food that looks more or less like the dish you would be served at a sit down restaurant. They want hot, fresh, crispy food. Not cold, soggy, dead food. Some of that has to do with timing factors out of restaurant control, but the restaurant may have more control than they think.
First we are witnessing an upgrade in packaging.
The opening of the package should provide an eye-pleasing experience that’s clean and organized, giving the consumer the confidence that the meal was prepared and handled with care. There should be special containers for dressings, sauces and other accouterments, and boxes able to breathe and let steam out to avoid sogginess. Who wants to look at a smoothie of their enchiladas when they open the box?
- In the future the use of smart boxes with recirculating air to keep the food at temperature during transport will be the norm rather than the exception.
- Also in the future, but coming rapidly, are tamper proof containers providing higher levels of food safety through the delivery channel.
Smaller menus featuring travel-stable food.
No more of these 200 item menus, but more like 10 to 15 of the restaurant’s best dishes that will sustain a 15–20 minute delivery time and still look and taste the same as when they came off the line.
- Restaurants will cross utilize ingredients to expedite execution and at the same time save money in prep labor, increasing the diminished margins of delivery.
Fusion will evolve.
With younger generations being more knowledgeable and curious about different foods and cultures, and more than willing to try the next fusion creation, the fusion of cuisines will continue to evolve, and we will see more creations like a Japa-rito, (Japanese style burrito) Korean Tacos, Ramen Burgers and Cronuts, bringing us much closer to Mod Oz cuisine of Australia, a style that tends to combine different flavors and techniques on one plate. Although some of them may just be trends, others are here to stay.
- This may come to you as a shock coming from an Italian, but think of this: Italian spaghetti would not exist without Italy’s exposure to Chinese noodles.
Sous vide cooking will expand.
I believe more and more food items will be cooked via sous vide, which obtains the best result for the way proteins are cooked, travel well, but also guarantees maintaining the original color of vegetables without the use of MSG. This is not only for top chefs like Michael Mina and others who have been cooking with sous vide for a while. Even QSR companies like Arby’s are now using it, and Mamoun’s Falafel has chosen it for quality consistency of their meats, including their signature dish shawarma.
Partially cooked dishes to be quickly re-heated and assembled.
There are still enough people who want to be able to set up a dinner table for the family to enjoy a semi home-cooked meal. Chef Neal Fraser of Red Bird, for example, will be offering some of his spectacular steak dinners via Kitchen United.
There is no doubt in my mind that the biggest shift will be in the number of vegan/vegetarian dishes offered across the board.
When you are witnessing Dominos and Pizza Hut adding vegan choices and selling out in a matter of a couple of hours, you quickly realize which way the dial is moving. With proponents of the caliber of Bill Gates pronouncing that “Veganism is the future,” Jay Z and Beyonce bringing it to the crowds, and Chef Ahki rising to stardom, it’s easy to predict that the vegan movement is here to stay, and already taking over a big slice of the pie. (n.p.i.)
-Massimo De Marco | Chief Culinary Officer-